The Saffar Financial Infrastructure Fund (SFIF), a regional growth stage fund focusing on the financial services sector in the Middle East, said it completed its first investment in John Charcol Middle East, an independent mortgage broker in the UAE.
The Saffar Financial Infrastructure Fund invests in growth stage financial services businesses in the Mena region. Saffar believes that financial services – encompassing banking, insurance, consumer finance, mortgages and asset management among others – is a form of infrastructure just like transport, utilities and water and is therefore critical to economic growth.
"Unlike many other investment companies that have taken a 'wait and see' approach, we believe that now is the ideal time to invest in the Middle East. Valuations have become more sensible, talented people are available and the long-term outlook for the region is promising. For an investment strategy such as Saffar's that takes a five-year view and that uses no leverage, current conditions are extremely attractive," said Nicholas McDonagh, SFIF's Fund Manager.
"At Saffar, we are accustomed to challenging times, having made our first investment in Zawya, the leading, regional financial information service provider, in November 2001. Saffar considers the financial services sector to be as integral to the infrastructure of the economy as physical infrastructure such as transportation and utilities. There is strong demand for mortgages, insurance, and investment products to serve the region's needs and limit reliance on external financial institutions. Saffar will continue to actively invest, regardless of the current economic slowdown," said Mishaal Al Usaimi, CEO of Saffar and Chairman of John Charcol Middle East.